Bristol Landlords have scored 70% on average in an online quiz aimed at testing their knowledge of key deposit dispute terms, according to The Deposit Protection Service (The DPS).

High scores included 95% of landlords accurately identifying the term ‘fair wear and tear’ to mean when a tenant uses the property, its fixtures and fittings in a reasonable and ordinary way.

72% of respondents demonstrated that they understood that, in a dispute, the burden is on landlords to prove that the tenant broke the terms of their tenancy agreement.

However, the UK’s largest protector of deposits said the quiz had also identified some areas where respondents’ understanding could improve, with just 32% showing that they understood that tenants are still responsible for a property until possession returns to the landlord or their tenancy ends; even if they move out earlier.

39% answered correctly on the definition of ‘betterment’, which is when a landlord attempts to make deductions from a deposit to cover decorating, repairs or the replacement of items that are of a higher standard than when the tenancy started.

Matt Trevett, Managing Director at The DPS, said: “We want to make it as easy as possible for landlords to reach a fair resolution of their dispute with a tenant or avoid one altogether.

“That’s why it’s so important that landlords understand the key legal terms and restrictions that guide adjudicators’ decisions, which are common to all deposit schemes. 

“Getting their heads around some of the finer points of tenancy and dispute terminology could save landlords time and money in the long run by enabling a smooth and straightforward transition from the end of one tenancy to the start of another.”

Of approximately 4,000 landlords taking part:

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  • More than 90% showed that they correctly understood the term ‘residual lifespan’ to mean how much more life a piece of furniture or fixture in the property has considering its age at check-in and the length of the tenancy
  • Around half (51%) correctly identified a ‘professional clean’ as being when a property is cleaned to a very high standard rather than necessarily through use of a professional cleaner
  • Two thirds (68%) of landlords incorrectly thought that the dispute adjudication process involved a form of mediation

Below are some of the common deposit dispute terms landlords should understand, according to The DPS:


Adjudicators use evidence provided by landlords and tenants to decide whether tenants have breached their tenancy agreement and whether landlords’ claims to put it right are appropriate. 

Burden of proof

Adjudicators do not conduct property visits, so it is up to the landlord to provide an accurate picture of what has happened and to propose a remedy if they want to retain some or all of the deposit. If the landlord’s evidence isn’t strong enough to prove the claim, the adjudicator must award the deposit to the tenant.

End of tenants’ responsibility

Tenants remain responsible for a property until possession returns to the landlord or their tenancy ends, even if they move out at an earlier date. 

‘Professional’ standard of cleaning

This simply means that the property is cleaned to a very high standard. It is possible for tenants to clean to this standard themselves. Landlords cannot ask tenants to clean the property to a higher standard when they leave than it was at when they moved in. 


This is the claiming of costs to replace cheaper goods, fixtures or fittings at the start of a tenancy with better quality ones at the end. Adjudicators cannot award claims for this. Betterment includes redecorating the property to a higher standard than at the start of the tenancy.

Landlords can test their knowledge of rental terms and processes by taking The DPS Understanding Terms Quiz or can learn more about commonly used terms via its deposit protection glossary. More information on disputes is also available via The DPS’ learning centre and its December dispute webinars on common misconceptions and case studies.

For more information about the quiz results, see:




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About The DPS

The Deposit Protection Service’s custodial tenancy deposit protection scheme is accredited by the Government. It is provided free of charge, and funded entirely by the interest earned from deposits held in the scheme. The DPS was approved by the UK government to run an insured TDP scheme in September 2012 in addition to the approval it has already been granted by the UK government in respect of the custodial scheme. The DPS is run by Computershare Investor Services PLC. Online self-service allows landlords to register and make deposit payments, transfers and repayments 24 hours a day. Help and advice is available through a dedicated call centre during office hours. An impartial Dispute Resolution Service, helps to resolve any disputes quickly and without the need for court action.

About Computershare Limited (CPU)

Computershare (ASX: CPU) is a global market leader in transfer agency and share registration, employee equity plans, mortgage servicing, proxy solicitation and stakeholder communications. We also specialise in corporate trust, bankruptcy, class action and a range of other diversified financial and governance services.

Founded in 1978, Computershare is renowned for its expertise in high integrity data management, high volume transaction processing and reconciliations, payments and stakeholder engagement. Many of the world’s leading organisations use us to streamline and maximise the value of relationships with their investors, employees, creditors and customers. 

Computershare is represented in all major financial markets and has over 12,000 employees worldwide.

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